Headed by former members of Congress, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform report’s most in-depth section deals primarily with congressional rule changes.
Specifically, one of the changes proposes that lawmakers work full-time for three straight weeks at a time in Washington before returning for one-week to their home district. Former White House officials, governors, and Cabinet secretaries also contributed to research efforts.
The release event on Tuesday featured a few of the members from the 29-member commission. To shore up support and address objections about the chance of success, former South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle urged the audience to be realistic. “Our proposals are not a magic elixir that will somehow restore America’s body politic to health. That is simply not going to happen,” Daschle said at the launch event on Tuesday.
The 109-page report includes recommendations which “will improve the federal government’s ability to function regardless of the deep ideological divides that exist both among lawmakers and the American public, while addressing some of the root causes of the polarization,” said former Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and ex-Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, two of the report’s authors.
Some of the reforms address money in politics, and in particular, state that all political contributions to outside and independent groups should be disclosed. Detailed disclosures of spending by congressional leadership PACs should also be required, in order to guarantee that those funds are being used for political activities, rather than personal use.
Under the elections heading, they propose open primaries for all registered voters, not allowing caucuses or conventions to select candidates, increasing voter registration online, and expanding early voting across all states.
On the legislative side, the report added that bills should be publicly accessible three days before the vote to allow sufficient public discussion. The Senate should limit time on debating motions, so that legislation can be considered more quickly.
Fiscal suggestions revolved around a two-year budget making process, as opposed to an annual one.
In order to distinguish itself from the myriad of past proposals from non-profits, the Bipartisan Policy Center is planning on conducting a series of events to further educate the public and explain the recommendations.
“We really are in a more polarized situation, and we don’t think that’s going to go away,” says commission director John Fortier, according to USA Today. “We’re really focused on the reality of our world this way: The parties have differences, but how can we make our institutions function?”
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